Nineteen actors have portrayed Simon Templar, the gentleman adventurer created by Leslie Charteris in 1928. Among the most memorable incarnations were George Sanders (in a series of 1930s films) and Vincent Price (who voic... more »ed the character on radio in the 1940s). But for baby boomers, there is only one Simon: Roger Moore, who starred in this classic 1960s British TV series. Moore makes a better Templar than he did a Bond (and he is certainly better than Val Kilmer, who stared in the 1997 feature film), and the inside jokes include guest appearances by Lois Maxwell, best known to 007 fans as Miss Moneypenny. Except for the gadgets, The Saint has all the pleasures of the Bond films: a real international man of mystery impeccably dressed (these entertaining adventures are "more cloak than dagger"), exotic locations, cold war intrigue, sparkling bons mots, and beautiful (albeit chaste) women, and the highlight of any episode is the devilishly funny prologue, in which, no matter where he is, someone always identifies our hero as "the infamous" Simon Templar, prompting him to cast his eyes heavenward as he is crowned by his signature animated halo. This 14-disc set includes all 47 original color episodes presented in their U.S. broadcast order. --Donald Liebenson« less
pestcomics | Long Island, New York USA | 09/26/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This A&E megaset contains ONLY the later color episodes and in my opinion the weakest episodes in the series as a whole. These color shows were original tales written for television and not based on the stories of Saint creator Leslie Charteris. These color episodes come off lighter and more tongue-in-cheek. This could be because ITC was pandering to the US in order to sell the series to an American television network or it could be the simple evolution of a series entering its fifth year of production. On the other hand, it could be that the writers devising the color stories didn't know Simon Templar the way Charteris did.
Prior to these color shows there were 71 black and white episodes produced over four years. Those original 71 shows are by far the best in the series (most, if not all, based on the stories of Charteris). In these stories Simon Templar comes across less cavalier and more forceful. Although he is still the charming crusader for the victims of the "ungodly" (as he might say), in these stories he dwells in a grittier monochrome underworld of crime. The stories themselves are great tales of murder, extortion, blackmail, racketeering, graft, espionage, etc.
So, if you want to experience the best years of The Saint then I would suggest acquiring the A&E The Saint: The Early Episodes collections. The first set contains all 12 episodes from series one (1962) and the second set continues with the first 16 shows from series two (1963-1964). All the episodes are brilliant transfers with crystal clear black and white picture quality. These sets are in very limited distribution. Sadly, Amazon does not carry them at this point. I hate to recommend other sales outlets so let Amazon know you want them to carry the Early Years sets.
NOTE: Since first writing this review Amazon has added the first two Early Episodes collections. I would strongly advise all Saint fans to acquire these terrific collections."
Roger Moore - as he should have played 007
Darren Harrison | Washington D.C. | 09/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It is true (as pointed out by previous reviewers) that the earlier black & white shows are better than these color episodes, but until recently the color shows featured in this Megaset were all that DVD collectors could get here in the United States. So almost two years ago now I picked up this set and was not disappointed. The transition to color was made to male this series more marketable to American and other international television networks. What makes the first four seasons so good was that the majority of the episodes were based on stories penned by Saint creator Leslie Charteris himself. But, as the fifth season came into production they had literally exhausted the source material and were forced to rely on original scripts written by writers who were either not well versed in the character of Simon Templar or lacked an understanding of his character. In the 47 episodes featured in this megaset (which also includes "The Fiction Makers" and "Vendetta for the Saint" that were also released theatrically as feature films) the character of Simon Templar is a lighter figure with a little more comedy. He is more of a dashing playboy than the adventurer he epitomized in the preceding 71 episodes, but the basic appeal of the character is still there. Shot in a day and age when traveling to far off locations was exclusively in the motion picture domain this show does its best to give an international flavor with Templar globetrotting the world without leaving the studio backlot and sets. It's an admirable effort and less distracting than you might think. I personally enjoyed every single one of these it also inspired me to check out similar British tv series from that era (I bought the Emma Peel Megaset earlier this year). Roger Moore is also my favorite James Bond (born in 1971 he was the first actor I saw in the role). For the Connery fans out there who say that Roger Moore played his character too light and comedic (they obviously didn't see the scene in Andrea Anders Hotel room in `The Man With the Golden Gun' or the cold manner in which 007 dispatched Sandor in `The Spy Who Loved Me'), those fans should check out his portrayal as Simon Templar in these episodes of `The Saint.' In this show Roger Moore plays a character much more ruthless than he played James Bond a few years later. When time eventually came to don the James Bond shoulder holster a determined effort was undertaken by the producers (and Moore) to distance his portrayal of James Bond from the direction that Connery had taken the character in. I think that is a shame because, as much as I love his 007 movies as they are today, if he had been allowed to be the first James Bond (he was considered for `Dr. No' but could not make it because he was already under contract for this tv show) then I am convinced he would be held in much higher regard today. The DVD trandfers on these discs is exceptional but my only complaint is the lack of special features in this set, they are so slim as to be almost laughable. Talking about extras, one should also be aware that a single DVD edition of `Vendetta for the Saint' which was released this year with an audio commentary by Roger Moore."
trebe | 07/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Roger Moore was the ideal choice to play "The Saint", when the character came to British television in the early 60's. Besides being the proper age, and having an athletic physique, Moore possessed class, charm and a dry witty sense of humor. Even more importantly, he brought an air of irreverence and swagger that are essential to the role of "Simon Templar", AKA "The Saint". "The Saint" was a man with a notorious and mysterious past, who quite often found himself in the middle of adventure and intrigue. Author Leslie Charteris created "The Saint", and when the TV series started, had been writing "Saint" adventures for over thirty years. "Simon Templar", the "Robin Hood of Modern Crime", was a man never comfortable with accepting authority. Motivated by his own sense of justice, he had no qualms about taking the law into his own hands. His travels took him many places, including the Europe, Latin America, Africa as well as his native Great Britain. "The Saint" TV program began airing in black and white in 1962. From the start, Charteris's original stories were the primary source material for the television episodes. Over time as these stories were used up, the program featured more stories written by others. That is where the Megaset begins. It contains the 47 color episodes produced from 1966 through the end of the series in 1969. "The Saint" is man who can get involved in adventure in a myriad of ways, and there is great diversity in these episodes. The set may show the series at its best and worst. Though the good far outweighs the bad. Roger Moore is clearly in his prime, comfortable and in synch with the role. In a few of the later episodes however, his ability to maintain the integrity of the character, is severely tested by some ill-conceived scripts. Still, Moore forges on, and carries the series magnificently. It is difficult to resist such a dashing and engaging fellow. Please see my reviews of the individual "Saint" boxed sets, for further commentary on specific episodes.The transfers to DVD are excellent, with colors that are true to the original. Extras are not significant. The Megaset is a major bargain compared to buying the individual sets separately. If you are fan of this classic series, and want to follow its evolution to its conclusion, the Megaset is the way to go."
"Allow me to introduce the infamous Simon Templar..."
Kenneth M. Pizzi | San Mateo, CA United States | 07/03/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"And so these words open each episode of this popular series. Leslie Charteris', "The Saint" was a role well-suited to Roger Moore's athleticism, good looks, and whimsical sense of humor that would eventually serve him well as none other than Ian Fleming's cold war icon, James Bond, for over ten years.
This A&E set contains all the color episodes in their original broadcast order and the transfers look quite clean; however if you have a multi-region DVD player like I do, I recommend the Amazon UK Network DVD 14 disc boxed set for the true fan; completely remastered from the original 16 mm prints and chock full with extras, including a full, hour-long live interview (not just a commentary, although several are included as well) with Roger Moore and the principals from the ITC production team who produced this popular series.
Also included are added tracks from Edwin Astley's theme music, television bumpers, alternate credit and title sequences, and the two feature films (with trailers) 'Vandetta for the Saint" and "The Fiction Makers." Nonetheless, this A&E set is perfect for the casual fan, however, no extras are included. Some of the better and more colorful episodes include "Interlude in Venice" and "The Man Who Liked Lions" starring a pre "Jason King" Peter Wyngarde. This A&E set would earn 5 stars, however I find the Network DVD set a better deal for those of us who appreciate the commentaries, feature films, and extras with our complete set."
Excellent transfer onto DVD
Kenneth M. Pizzi | 08/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As usual, A&E did a splendid job transfering the series onto DVDs, the color is vibrant and the image is very sharp, flesh tone is excellent. Readers should read other reviews on the story line. As in all TV series made in this period, it is very obvious (due to the great transfer) to the viewer when the shots are taken in indoor studio, however, this does not take away from the story line. The extras are minimal. Currently, I have several box sets of 60s and 70s British TV series put out by A&E and I am extremely happy with the transfer."